By Arré Bench May. 22, 2020
At a time when all efforts should be directed towards the healthcare and administrative front, an ugly war of hashtag campaigns, and petty politics is playing out in Maharashtra, between the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi and the BJP.
The coronavirus situation has been grim in Maharashtra with the state recording over 41,000 cases and 1,454 deaths so far. Mumbai alone has recorded over 25,500 cases with the death toll reaching 882. The healthcare system seems to be under stress and availability of beds is a massive concern. Hundreds of migrant workers have gathered at railways stations on multiple occasions and social distancing measures have been found wanting across various markets and public places.
At a time when all efforts should be directed towards the healthcare and administrative front, an ugly war of words, hashtag campaigns, and petty politics is playing out in the state between the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi dispensation and the Bharatiya Janata Party in opposition.
Maharashtra Drohi BJP vs Maharashtra Bachao: War of words begin as #BJP protest targets #UddhavThackeray government over #COVIDー19 crisis.@CMOMaharashtra @OfficeofUT #Maharashtra https://t.co/LV07qG7o8m
— Mumbai Mirror (@MumbaiMirror) May 22, 2020
Former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and other BJP leaders staged a “Maharashtra Bachao” demonstration outside the party office, demanding the announcement of a ₹50,000-crore package for farmers, labourers & workers of the unorganised sector by the state government. “Most sick, most dead! Health system completely collapsed, government inactivity! Constantly cooperated with the state government. But how much will the people tolerate?” he tweeted.
सर्वाधिक रूग्ण, सर्वाधिक मृत्यू!
आरोग्य व्यवस्था पूर्णत: कोलमडलेली, शासनाची निष्क्रियता!
राज्य सरकारसोबत सातत्याने सहकार्याची भूमिका घेतली.
मात्र जनता सहन तरी किती करणार?
— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) May 22, 2020
Without violating social distancing, the party asked its workers to hold black placards and wear masks of the same colour while registering their protest. The BJP even asked Maharashtra residents to dress in black, enter their balconies, and display placards with slogans against the ruling Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government led by Uddhav Thackeray.
#MaharashtraBachao started trending on Twitter and the hashtag has garnered over 48K tweets as the BJP’s IT cell sprung into action, running a coordinated campaign with images, videos and infographics, all directed towards the Uddhav-led government. At a time, when the opposition party could have worked with the government to make things better, it has chosen to indulge in theatrics.
— Madhuri Misal (@madhurimisal) May 22, 2020
Corona is taking lives, destroying the economy, citizens are crying for help but the tri-party Government is clueless how to handle the situation. lack of leadership, no coordination & Zero experience, it’s deadlier than the virus for the people of the state.#MaharashtraBachao pic.twitter.com/ClwY4Si2Ny
— Mohit Bharatiya (@mohitbharatiya_) May 22, 2020
— Abhishek Pawar (@Abhishe14734002) May 22, 2020
In response, everyone was subject to more ill-timed drama as the alliance partners of the coalition government started using #महाराष्ट्रद्रोहीBJP to take potshots at Devendra Fadnavis and the Maharashtra BJP. #महाराष्ट्रद्रोहीBJP has been used over 98K times and is trending along with #MaharashtraBachao as both parties have a go at each other in this rather ugly display in the middle of a pandemic.
“Think once before holding black (placards) in hand, aren’t you insulting doctors, policemen and health workers who are working for Maharashtra! Are you committing treason with Maharashtra?” asked NCP leader Jayant Patil.
हातात काळं घेताना एकदा तरी विचार करा, आपण अहोरात्र महाराष्ट्रासाठी झटणाऱ्या डॉक्टरांचा, पोलीस कर्मचाऱ्यांचा आणि आरोग्य सेवकांचा अपमान तर करत नाही ना!
आपण महाराष्ट्रद्रोह तर करत नाही ना ? #महाराष्ट्रद्रोहीBJP
— Jayant Patil (@Jayant_R_Patil) May 22, 2020
“The people will never accept this dirty politics of BJP. On the contrary, they will protest against this wrong politics and teach the BJP a lesson!” said Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad.
कोरोनाविरूद्ध महाराष्ट्र विकास आघाडी सरकार प्राणपणाने लढत असतानादेखील राज्यात गोंधळाची परिस्थिती निर्माण करण्याचा प्रयत्न भाजपकडून होत आहे. भाजपचे हे गलिच्छ राजकारण जनता कधीही मान्य करणार नाही.उलट ती या चुकीच्या राजकारणाचा निषेध करेल, आणि भाजपला धडा शिकवेल! #महाराष्ट्रद्रोहीBJP
— Office of Dr. Jitendra Awhad (@AwhadOffice) May 22, 2020
Aaditya Thackeray also came out all guns blazing in his criticism of the campaign organised by BJP Maharashtra, describing it as “absolutely shameful” and a “new low”.
In pictures shared on Twitter, children are seen participating in the protest with masks lowered, which was pointed out by Aaditya .“Making kids stand in the heat, with their masks lowered, not covering the face for a political protest when we need to keep them safe and indoors. Corona ko bhul gaye, politics pyaara hai,” he posted.
One political party state unit has set a new low and a new world record- the only party in the world to indulge in politics and in spreading fear, hate and division when the world has forgotten all of it to help each other. This party has forgotten the pandemic.
— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) May 22, 2020
Absolutely shameful, what lust for power politics can make leaders do. Making kids stand in the heat, with their masks lowered, not covering the face for a political protest when we need to keep them safe and indoors. Corona ko bhul gaye, politics pyaara hai. pic.twitter.com/fmxFKUdssB
— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) May 22, 2020
With the case count rising, deaths mounting and the most vulnerable in the state struggling to get bare essentials, this ugly politics seems misplaced, petty, and unnecessary at the moment. The politics can wait, BJP and Maha Vikas Aghadi, we’ve got a pandemic to deal with first.